The walls come at me, I threaten to drown, get a car accident and get shot. Then I am in a laboratory. A man and a woman, both researchers, come to me and look at me intensely. My reactions are analyzed on the basis of emotion registration and face detection. Within the tight space of the 1 square meter in the Mirror Room I undergo a scenario from which my personality is recorded.
Save and publish data?
The result appears on the wall in front of me, a female voice gives further explanation. Without knowing it my heartbeat was measured, it is too high. Conclusion: I am restless. I am a woman of 1.77, check, weigh 66 kilos, check, violence makes me most afraid, check, whether someone is Arabic, Slavic or black does nothing to me, check, I have more confidence in men than in women and my age is between 25 and 35 years. The latter two are assumptions of detection: the male researcher got more attention because I thought he was a bit crazy and my age, yes, 58 years. At the end of the analysis, I can choose whether I want to save and publish the data. My answer is no. I just need to look at the screen with the red no-button to make it known.
We are data
The designers and artists who created the Mirror Room want to make people aware that all kinds of personal data is recorded without us knowing it. You recognize gravity; if you release an apple, it falls to the ground. Proven beyond doubt. With data, it goes a lot more sneakier. As with the advertising columns at the railway station in Amsterdam and at a further 700 other places. The cameras hidden in the pillars recorded how long someone looked at the advertisement, whether it was a man or a woman and his or her age. Extremely important information for marketers. The Dutch Data Protection Authority was not amused about this hidden camera research and demanded an investigation.
You are data and that data is yours
The Mirror Room is a super-smart space in which you are unconsciously measured and viewed. By the intense experience in this mirror space you get to see what the importance of privacy of your personal data really means.
The factuality of data gives a lot of insights. Positive and negative. Because, are all those data true and what happens when those data come into the hands of unknown parties? Suppose my insurance company knows that I often google on drugs for a serious illness. Through the security cameras in streets and the public space, he sees that I regularly visit my doctor and the hospital. Can I still insure myself later? Do I have to pay a much higher premium? Because it looks like I am sick according to those data?
It should not go that way, that is why awareness that you are all data is important. And much more, know how to prevent that data will be recorded against your will.
Personal report by Carla van Gaalen
Photo credits: Mirror Room